Daddy Issues


Father Holding Daughter's Hand

“She must have daddy issues,” she said after learning Joanna had a new boyfriend.

We continued walking-talking about our latest ‘author crushes’, jobs, and newfound ways to add spinach into our diets. But my mind stayed on Joanna and her ‘daddy issues’. Unfortunately, her new guy was just as terrible as the five before. I hated that our friend was clearly hurting, but didn’t know it.

The guys she picked for boyfriends were almost nonsensical. As a bystander, I could see that she had a major lack of discernment-but it was hard to pinpoint just why she was attracted to such jerks.

I remember a pastor saying once that mother’s words to a child weighed about 20 pounds; a father’s closer to 500. Strong father-daughter relationships are critical to a girl’s development of self-esteem. With the abundance of single parent households, abusive and emotionally absent fathers, there are a lot of women walking around with ‘daddy issues’.

Women with ‘daddy issues’ are usually seen to have an unhealthy need for male attention. Sometimes that plays out as being clingy, sexually aggressive, or promiscuous; other times as using men and then abandoning them (often just like fathers have done). Women let themselves be mistreated by men because they so desperately ache for male attention.

Even worse? As women, we get our primary view of God from our dads. So if your father abandoned you, it’s hard to believe that God won’t follow suit. If your father manipulated you, it’s hard to accept God has ‘wonderful plan for your life’, when it’s easy to think He’ll just manipulate you, too. Was your dad cruel and overbearing? Ready to punish you with the slightest of faults? Chances are you see God a cruel punisher, poised to strike you when you mess up.

Did you have a father in your life growing up? Without a safe male role model, women can have a difficult time developing a healthy view of self and sexuality. Think about it. Without a father, you don’t have anyone to show you love that has nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with who you are. If your only experience with men is distant or sexual, it’s easy to see yourself as a sexual object versus a complete person with much to offer a relationship.

There is a reason I cling to the phrase “God is a good Dad”. Michael was the first person to recognize my unhealthy fear of God’s punishment. I was often paralyzed with ‘what if’ scenarios and lived my spiritual life with God as if I was on a treadmill. Perform, perform, perform. Mess up. Make promises. Perform, perform, perform.

You can’t do much about your childhood experience of a father. But you can start to recognize how your relationship with your dad is affecting not just your relationships with men-but more importantly with God. Spend some time alone, praying, asking God to give you wisdom into how this relationship plays out in your life. And then, we need to answer the question, “Is God like the men who have hurt me?” Your ‘daddy issues’ don’t have to dictate your life.

We’ll be discussing this question on Wednesday. In the meantime, what is your relationship with your dad like? How has that influenced your relationship with men? With God?

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13 Responses to “Daddy Issues”
  1. Tatuu says:


    This post has brought back some painful memories…

    To answer the questions above, I would write 3 posts- though I don’t think I am ready to air my daddy issues just yet.

    But to briefly answer how daddy issues have affected my relationships with men, I’ll copy a comment I posted on this blog a year ago, here goes: “I think I no longer care and I just live my life. I have built hedges around me which every time I try to bring them down, I see something in men that tell me to just build the hedge back up. I know I have a problem. God’s grace is sufficient! I don’t hate men but I prevent them from growing close to me, just so they don’t get close enough to hurt me eventually. I enjoy friendships but from a distance”.

    The ‘I no longer care’ part of that statement has been permanently deleted- I do care now and working with the Holy Spirit to bring the hedges down. It’s tough!

    I cling to the phrase, ‘God is a good dad’ as well. Thanks to you.

    Thanks for sharing this..

    PS: It just occurred to me that I have been reading this blog for a year and 3 months now. Yay! It’s been fun and helpful in many ways.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Tatuu,

      Thanks for sharing. This topic can be extremely sensitive & painful for many so I hope you know how much it means for you to share a piece of your journey. I hope my readers can always feel safe sharing on my blog. Now just to figure out how to get more people to comment.

      I’m so glad to hear you now care (and aren’t numb). Yes, He certainly is a good Dad.

      Tell Monday afternoon ‘hello’ for me:) Thanks for reading!


      • Tatuu says:


        I’ll write you an email some time. God is doing a great work in me I believe. Always great reading your blog.

  2. Jess says:

    Hi Ruthie! Great post as usual…..

    Wow! Daddy issues…I agree with you it’s quite sensitive and just like Tatuu, it reminds me of my painful journey in this life. I am the kind that doesn’t like exposing my life( also coz of Daddy Issues. Life taught to handle issues by my self and keep it myself coz after all nobody cares…So I thought) but for the sake of “its not about me” but about whoever is going through it now I will share a little.

    I have an absentee father. For this reason, often times I have feared for my husband to leave me(in future)….I am very careful with whom to let in my life coz I fear heartbreaks. I always tell God to please bring a serious person my way, coz am not about/ready to go through what I have gone through again. In my past relationships, when I sense any discomfort, I have been the one who calls it off….But luckily with God, He has been my all in all and my TRUE friend. So at least I have not had issues trusting Him coz its because of Him that I am today. Without Him, I would be no more…

    Otherwise, am waiting for Wednesday!

    Much love Ruthie!

  3. AshleyB says:

    I am so blessed to have a great relationship with my dad. However, I still feel like I have some of those issues with men that may be labeled “daddy issues”: seeing men as distant, un-involved with the children, etc. My dad was not any of these things, yet I still struggle. Perhaps “daddy issues” can stem from places like the media we consume as well. Thankfully, I know that God is in fact the BEST daddy! :D

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Yes, I think you bring up a good point. We can have ‘daddy issues’ even when our dads were great fathers! That’s why we all need Jesus-those from ‘perfect’ families and those from broken ones.

  4. Allison says:

    Thank you so much for today’s blog. I can sooooo relate. I had a non-present Dad that only wanted to see me when it was convenient for him, everything seemed to be more important than spending time with his daughter. My Dad is deceased now and I have felt for quite some time that I had dealt with my “daddy issues” appropriately and effectively. Even stopped dating for nearly six years to be focus on getting myself emotionally and spiritually healthy. Now I’m in a relationship with a wonderful man that works ALOT, and I’m finding that these “daddy issues” have re-emerged. Kind of disheartening. We are very much in love and bless his heart for being patient with me, but I’m sure it’s wearing thin. He has custody of his two young children and is their sole provider. My difficulty is in taking the “backseat” for the sake of our relationship and more importantly, his relationship with his children. So in a sense, I feel that I’m saying to him “I’m not as important as all of these other responsibilities in your life, put me on the shelf and I’ll be here when you return”. In turn, this is affecting my self esteem and I don’t know what to do about it. It’s not up to my boyfriend to fix this for me or make me “feel” a certain way. I love him and his children very much and I’m very scared that I’m going to ruin a wonderful thing with all of them if I don’t figure this out and do something about it.

    • Ruthie Dean says:

      Hi Allison,

      Thanks for sharing your story here. It’s great that you took time off dating to work on yourself. I hate that these issues have resurfaced, but healing is a lifelong process.

      I don’t know the specifics, but he does need to be paying some attention to you and make you a priority. Otherwise, the relationship won’t work. Working too much is such a common stressor in a relationship.

      Best to you!

  5. Brandy says:

    I am looking to move past my “daddy issues” My daddy was in my life when my mom died and I loved him dearly….but now I am very conflicted on my feelings with him. He is a man that has been so dishonest to people that I dont know if I want him around his grandchild. I am hurt by the many lies that he has told to me. I try to talk to my friends and family about it but they just say I got my own worries to be concerned about. I strongly feel the reason i havent been in any strong relationships because of my issues with my daddy. I had a baby 5 months ago and I barely know her father. I feel so lost when it comes to relationships. I want a relationship and I yearn for it but I just want to give up. I keep repeating the last statement of not letting my daddy issues dictate my relationship with God but my relationship with God is a consistant relationship either. I question Gods intentions alot…I always wonder what does things really mean…why am I going through what I am goin through. I found this post very helpful.

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  7. Severe Daddy Issues in FL says:

    Your post hit me big time. I’m 29 and the baby of 7. My mother did an excellent job raising us but I’ve always wondered how things would’ve turned out with having a father figure. My siblings were from her previous marriage and relationship so they all had a relationship with their dad. I don’t. All I know is the story of how she met him and ended up with me. Anyway, every since I’ve been grown and gone my life has been an emotional wreck dealing with men and a rocky relationship with God. I’ve just recently re entered the dating arena and most of the men try to have sex with me on the first date. I don’t present myself in a sexual manner and it frustrates me that that’s all I’m wanted for. some go out with me and then text that I am very intelligent but too fat. I
    am very curvy but not overly overweight yet not a size 2 so I’m not pretty enough. I sometimes just want to throw in the towel and just let them have sex with me so that I can feel wanted and loved. I’m struggling right now in my relationship with God and my faith is shaken not only because of my daddy issues but other things in my life that aren’t going right. Sometimes I wonder why I even exist.

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